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CBS2 Exclusive: Widow Of Jeweler Killed In Queens Hit-And-Run Speaks Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- A Queens family is hoping new surveillance video will help find a driver who police say was involved in a hit-and-run that left a well-known jeweler dead.

Sophia Aranbayev is trying to cope with the sudden death of her husband, Aron. The couple have three young children, including a 7-month-old baby.

"It's just a very, very tough time," she told CBS2's Ilana Gold in an exclusive interview. "Everything is just taken away in a day."

Aron Aranbayev was run over by a dark-colored Dodge Magnum near his Forest Hills home on 71st Avenue by 110th Street on Sunday, police said.

Surveillance cameras captured the vehicle after investigators said the driver deliberately backed over the 40-year-old jeweler and drove off.

Queens Hit-And-Run
Surveillance video of a car police say was used in a deadly hit-and-run in Queens. (credit: NYPD)

His family was inside, just feet away.

"My heart was just broken that I was not able to be outside and help him," his wife said.

Aranbayev was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he died.

"He fell so hard, he had a fracture of his skull," said Sophia Aranbayev. "There was nothing we could have done to help him."

Investigators believe Aranbayev and the driver may have gotten into a fight over a parking spot.

"This guy didn't deserve what happened to him. It's a really, really good family," said neighbor Gregory Yagudaev.

"He was taken away unfairly for no reason," Sophia Aranbayev said.

Aranbayev worked at his family's renowned store, Rafaello & Co. in Manhattan, for a decade.

Eric Rafaello and P Diddy
Eric Rafaello and P Diddy (Credit: Rafaello_Eric/Instagram)

The store remains closed as his loved ones grieve.

His Instagram feed includes photos of him posing with many celebrity clients in his store, including Sean "Diddy" Combs, Kevin Hart, Khloe Kardashian and Macklemore.

This week, stunned mourners and fellow jewelers crowded his synagogue in Queens to pay their respects.

"Just shocking to hear and see what's happened with him," a mourner said.

Flier: Car like one wanted in fatal Queens hit-and-run that left famous jeweler Eric Rafaello dead
Flier: Car like one wanted in fatal Queens hit-and-run that left famous jeweler Eric Rafaello dead (CBS2)

Police say the car they are looking for may have front-end damage. They released a flier and are urging everyone to take a good look at the car and speak up if they know anything, Gold reported.

The family is offering a $35,000 reward for information leading to the arrest.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.


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